We are planning a sisters get together, just for a few days but a precious few days for us. Kak Cik has already made her way to Geneva and she has already listed the places that we should visit. Lilah is packing her bags to make her way to London before we all troop off to meet her there. The last time Lilah was in London was in 1981, the year it snowed so heavily that Kensington Garden was like a fairyland. I remember that so well because she ventured off to the park with Oli while I was still in bed and both of them were stuck in the lift and we had to call the firemen to the rescue.
We are all excited, of course and we have planned a thousand and one things. My Rehana will be joining us from Brussels where she will be attending a meeting and then when I leave them to come home because of some work commitments, Rehana will try to bring them to Paris for a whirlwind tour – a snapshot with Eiffel Tower in the background will do to show the folks back home.
It is a pity that Kak can’t make it and Nisa has to stay at home to look after Mak.
Yes, Mak. At the back of our minds, with all this planning, is Mak. We are all praying that she will continue to be in good health, no emergencies, no problems. All the while, although she is mostly with Nisa, my sister-in-law and Ajie, she spends the weekends and holidays with Lilah and also with Kak Cik. But everyone is nearby and would drop everything to be by her side, when necessary.
But how do you tell Mak where and when you are going? For the last few years, our conversations with Mak are well scripted. All our infos must tally. They are not lies but we have to be economical with the truth. Because if Mak knows the real truth, then she starts fretting and finds excuses to go back to the house that Pak built for her.
This reminds me of those days leaving the children behind for some non-work related sojourns. It was always with excuses of going to the hospital, the dentist, or work. The number of times I used the line going to the dentist, if they were true, would have left me toothless by now, but at that time it worked.
I bet Mak used to do that on us when she had to go out for a breather. I remember her saying, “Mak nak pi tengok orang sakit. Mak nak pi doctor,” and we’d all be gullible enough to believe even though Mak was dressed in her finest to go for a hospital visit. And now we are playing the same game with her.
Lilah is dreading that moment when she has to tell her why she would not be around for a few days, in fact for a few weeks. It will have to be a meeting, a course – Mak understands that a kursus would take a few days. And by now, she must be wondering why Kak Cik has not been making her morning appearances with her breakfast takeaways. Am sure Nisa and Ajie must have fobbed her off with some excuses, like ‘Kak Cik balik Pilah, ada kenduri,” repeated a number of times.
I imagine her taking it all in with all the innocence of a child, and then she’d repeat the same question again fifteen minutes later. For all her forgetfulness, she knows when her offsprings are not around.
When Mak was looking after arwah Tok, once in a while, she too needed a breather. Tok wasn’t an easy person to look after. But Mak endured her last few years patiently putting up with a Mother who used to be strong and independent and a perfectionist. So, when she needed a break, she’d make a visit to Pekan Rabu or Lorong Sempit to get some new materials for her baju kurung. That was her retail therapy. She needed this time away, even for a short while, to come back and be a better daughter to her mother. Sometimes, she needed a longer time away and would leave Tok in the care of Tok Som, but all the while in Kuala Lumpur where she visited her own children, she worried about Tok.
When the time comes and Lilah tearfully says goodbye to Mak, and we all meet up in Geneva, Insyaallah, we know that for all the beautiful places that we will be visiting, we will have Mak in mind. We will look at the beautiful flowers in early summer and think of her because she loves flowers and gardens. We will feast our eyes on the intricate and fine crockeries in the shop windows and remember how she lovingly kept her collection. We’d sit around eating and joking and all the while each of us will be missing her presence. Mak always sits quietly, watching us banter at the dinner table, and all the while happy that her children were around.
Mak may not know that there is a day dedicated to her and she doesn’t even care. But from thousands of miles away, as a daughter who has not done much to look after her Mak other than think of her in her daily prayers and write about her in her blog, I offer my undivided love and gratitude for making me what I am today, and for letting me be where I am today.....without any question, without any condition.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL
More on Mak: